Oats are a type of cereal grains. They are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, and proteins.
Oat protein is said to be as nutritious as soy protein.
Two components present in oats that offer health benefits are:
- Beta-glucan- a soluble fibre which affects digestion and has blood glucose and cholesterol-lowering properties.
- Avenanthramide- a group of compounds that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-itch activities
95% of oats produced are used for livestock purposes. But that is my mind block all right!
Oats are perhaps one of the most common breakfast items in the Western countries and increasing awareness of its health benefits is leading to its acceptance worldwide.
This article has given me and sure it will give you a number of reasons to look forward to a steaming hot bowl of oats.
10 Reasons Why Oats are Good for Weight Loss
We present to you 6 prime reasons why we feel oats will help you achieve your weight loss target and these reasons are based on scientific evidence. Take a look.
1. Oat Beta glucan improves gut microflora
Oat beta glucan is a class of polysaccharides (sugars) that forms the principal component of soluble fibres present in oats.
Oat fibre when consumed absorbs water swells and this increase in volume gives a feeling of satiety.
Oat beta glucan supports the growth of healthy microbes in the intestine and also increases the excretion of fat. Oat beta glucan is helpful in treating :
- High cholesterol levels
What does this mean? Oat beta glucan, a type of fibre found in oats supports healthy growth of intestinal microflora. It also improves metabolic health.
2. Oat beta glucan helps to reduce belly fat
In a clinical trial conducted in Taiwan subjects were given either a placebo (false drug) or oat cereal rich in beta glucan for 12 weeks.
Oat cereal consumption led to a significant decrease in body weight, body fat, BMI and waist to hip ratio.
Researchers concluded that regular oat consumption can help reduce obesity and abdominal fat.
When consumed as a supplement, oat can serve to be therapeutic in conjunction with conventional treatments for the metabolic disorder.
What does this mean? Research shows that oat can help in reduction of belly fat or abdominal obesity.
3. It can influence carbohydrate metabolism
Carbohydrates are power-packed constituents of a regular diet. They lead to intake of excess energy and subsequent weight gain.
A research study reports that consumption of oat beta glucan can favourably influence glucose and insulin levels and reduce blood pressure.
Findings of this study suggest that oat beta-glucan alters carbohydrate metabolism which can in turn help in reducing obesity.
What does this mean? Oats consumption prevents spikes in insulin levels which otherwise can contribute to weight gain.
4. It can activate the gut-brain axis
Gut-brain axis or the hypothalamic-gut axis is a connection wherein the gastrointestinal and nervous systems interact by sending messages chemically.
This new concept is used to treat nervous system related disorders by manipulating microbes present in intestines.
Interestingly oat beta glucan consumption is proven to impact this axis in an animal model.
By activating this axis oat beta glucan helps promote satiety, reduce appetite and lower chances of weight gain.
What does this mean? Oat consumption is found to have a beneficial effect on gut- brain axis which aids in weight loss.
5. It increases production of the digestive hormone
Consumption of oat beta-glucan is proven to increase the production of cholecystokinin after a meal.
Cholecystokinin is a hormone that stimulates digestion of fats and proteins by inducing the release of digestive enzymes. It can also curb hunger.
Research proves that oat beta glucan can increase production of cholecystokinin and reduce secretion of insulin after a meal both which can aid in increasing post-meal satiety.
What does this mean? Oats beta glucan is the principal component in oats that mediates weight loss by promoting satiety, regulating digestive hormones and affecting carbohydrate metabolism. The major highlight of this section is that oat beta glucan can reduce abdominal obesity.
6. Oats promote satiety
The fiber present in oats and the time is taken to digest it induces a feeling of fullness and reduces appetite and further intake.
Following studies demonstrate the different ways in which the effect of oats on satiety has been evaluated.
An interesting study was conducted wherein healthy volunteers were given beverages fortified with oat dietary fibre. Consumption of such beverages led to increased post-meal satiety and decreased appetite.
According to the study, increased viscosity (thickness) of beverage and the presence of oat beta-glucan contributed to increased satiety and reduced appetite.
Breakfast of oat bran supplemented biscuits and juices are not just healthy but also filling.
Addition of oat bran to biscuits and juices has been proven to increase post-meal satiety.
Biscuits and juices containing oat fibre when consumed for breakfast give a feeling of fullness after breakfast and reduce appetite. Juices exert this effect more strongly than biscuits.
Oatmeal is superior to ready to eat cereals when it comes to appetite control
The effect of different types of oatmeals in comparison to ready to eat cereals on satiety was assessed.
Breakfasts comprising of instant oats, old fashioned oatmeal and ready to eat cereals were given to the subjects.
Both types of oatmeal increased satiety and reduced hunger in comparison to ready to eat cereals.
Oatmeal being higher in protein and fibre (especially beta glucan) and low in sugar led to increased fullness and decreased appetite in comparison to ready to eat cereals.
The viscosity of dietary fibre present in oat is proposed to have caused this effect.
What does this mean? Oats can promote postmeal satiety and reduce further intake. Reduced calorie intake leads to weight loss.
7. Oats can control blood glucose levels
Every food item after consumption impacts an individual’s blood glucose level. This impact is measured in terms of what is called the glycemic index (GI).
Low GI foods increase satiety and reduce appetite in comparison to high GI foods.
Oats are a part of the whole grain family which are considered as healthy carbohydrates and one reason for this is that they are low GI foods.
A study was conducted to ascertain the effect of oats porridge on post-meal glucose levels.
The porridge consisted of milk, honey and either rolled or pinned oats (we will find out what these are in later sections).
Pinned oats porridge led to a decrease in blood glucose levels after the meal while rolled oats stimulated a sense of fullness.
Though the study suggests that difference in production styles of oats can cause variability in results, but oats definitely reduce post-meal glucose levels which in turn controls appetite and reduces further energy intake.
What does this mean? Oats lead to gradual decrease in post meal glucose levels which aids in controlling appetite and preventing subsequent energy intake.
8. Oats can replace fats aiding in weight loss
Interestingly oat bran supplementation to low fat, low cholesterol diet can improve the diet’s effectiveness in reducing cholesterol and blood lipid levels.
A study was conducted wherein oat bran was used as a fat substitute in preparation of meatballs.
Different proportions of oat bran were added to the meatballs.
Meatballs prepared with oat bran had lower concentrations of total fat and total trans fat.
Meatballs prepared with 20% oat bran concentration had the highest protein contents.
All preparations had good acceptability. This study suggests that one can use oats as a healthy replacement for fats.
What does this mean? Oat bran can serve as an excellent replacement for fat in meals thereby lowering calorie content of meals.
9. Oats serve as a source of dietary fibre
High dietary fibre intake is linked with low BMI as fibre increases satiety and fat excretion.
Following studies support the idea of including oats as a source of dietary fibre for weight loss.
A clinical trial was organised to evaluate whether a whole grain oat cereal helps with weight loss and other cardiovascular factors in comparison to other fibre foods.
Weight loss was similar in both groups but a significant decrease in weight circumference and cholesterol was seen in the group consuming oat cereals.
A survey conducted in USA reported that children who consumed oatmeal had low risks of developing obesity or abdominal fat.
They had a better diet quality and higher intakes of vitamins, fibres and minerals; and low intake of cholesterol and fats.
As per the study, regular consumption of oatmeal by children was linked with better diet quality and nutrient intake as well as reduced risk of obesity.
Interestingly, a study reports that despite being rich in soluble fibre, oat consumption does not help much with weight loss apart from causing mild reduction in appetite.
Similarly addition of oat beta-glucan to low-calorie diet is not found to enhance the effect of energy restriction on weight loss.
What does this mean? Including oats as a source of dietary fibre in diet can induce modest weight loss outcomes.
10. Oats are healthy for the heart
Oats consumption is proven to be healthy for the heart and related diseases which are sometimes seen as consequences of obesity.
A study was conducted wherein individuals were given either a low-calorie diet or a diet containing oats. Weight loss outcomes were similar in both groups.
However, the oat consuming group experienced a greater decrease in cholesterol and blood pressure compared to the control group.
A combination of oats and vitamin E are proven to prevent or reduce changes in blood vessels and their functioning caused by ingestion and accumulation of fats from the diet.
Experiments conducted in animal models suggest that oat beta glucan can improve insulin resistance and this can be of relevance in diabetes treatment.
Oat bran rich foods are found to be beneficial for improving cholesterol and lipid levels in overweight women.
In comparison to wheat bread, oat bread consumption is shown to be favorable for individuals suffering from hypercholesterolemia (condition in which one has high blood cholesterol levels) as it helps reduce cholesterol levels and improves the functioning of blood vessels.
What does this mean? Oat consumption improves metabolic health by reducing cholesterol and insulin resistance.
Oats v/s Other weight loss food items
Following studies reflect the effect of oats either in comparison or combination with other food items and demonstrate its effect on weight loss related parameters.
Oats v/s Fruits
When it comes to weight loss, sadly oats loses the battle against fruits.
A study conducted in Brazil reports that consuming fruits thrice daily versus similar consumption of oat cookies leads to better weight loss.
Modest weight loss was seen in both groups (fruits:1.22kg and oats: 0.88kg). Improvement in blood glucose level was seen with fruit consumption.
Well though this study says fruits are better than oats for weight loss, I would suggest you combine both of them to make your oat cereal and porridge more delicious.
Oats v/s Noodles
Now why noodles!? Well, this study was organized to compare the effects of oat consumption in Asian population where noodles are a popular food item.
Subjects were given either instant oat cereals or wheat flour-based noodles.
At the end of the study, a decrease in cholesterol levels and waist circumference was observed in the group consuming oats.
Dietary fiber intake also increased in this group.
As per the study consumption of instant oat cereals for 6 weeks can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Whole grain oat flour v/s low oat bran flour
Experiment conducted in animal model shows that consumption of whole grain oat flour reduces weight gain and cholesterol levels. It improves insulin levels.
Both flours are proven to effective in changing gut microflora (healthy microorganisms found in intestines that aid in digestion).
As per the study, consumption of whole grain oat flour can prove to be beneficial for individuals suffering from insulin resistance and dyslipidemia.
Simple ways to include oats in meals
Whole oats consist of the oat kernel along with its cover called bran. Oat bran is more concentrated in nutrients and fibres than whole oats.
Different techniques involved in processing result in different textures of oats:
- Steel cut /pinhead oats are whole oats cut in elongated pieces that are chewy in texture and take about 20 minutes to cook.
- Rolled oats are processed between steel rollers. They are easier to chew than steel cut oats and take around 5 minutes to cook.
- Quick oats are cut before processing and therefore are easier to cook.
- Instant oats are the simplest of the lot in terms of cooking as they are processed to be so thin that even slightest cooking helps to reconstitute them.
- Regular oatmeals or oats porridge with the addition of fruits, nuts, and cinnamon powder as breakfast is a good kickstart for the day.
- Addition of oats to smoothies is another healthy option. Granola bars also contain oats.
- Oat bran biscuits, cookies and oat flour bread are healthy alternatives to regular options.
- Oatmeals spiced up with herbs and other condiments can serve as a meal replacement.
How much oats should be consumed for weight loss?
Depending on the process of manufacture, the serving size of oats differ.
Generally, ½ cup of oats is recommended but anything ranging ¼ to ½ cup of oats is suitable depending on your calorie requirements.
The best approach would be to read the nutrition facts printed by the manufacturer at the back of the package so that you can find out the calories and fat you consume in each serving and then determine the serving size as per your need.
Oats and Coeliac Disease
Coeliac disease is a disorder in which individuals develop an allergic reaction on consuming gluten.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Individuals suffering from this disease follow a gluten-free diet.
Research proves that oats consumption is tolerated by celiac patients.
However, it is best to take a doctor’s advice before including oats in your diet and follow up with a routine check-up.
The bottom line is oats are healthy. Irrespective of weight loss goals, one should make it a point to consume at least one serving of oats every day to reap its health benefits.
Coming to weight loss, oats are good for reducing belly fat and can help in weight loss by controlling appetite.
Oats can help to reduce the risk of metabolic or heart diseases linked to obesity.